Recently H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, has been making a comeback through Australia. Three-quarters of the over 21,000 reported influenza cases were the H1N1 strain. It is currently the predominate virus there. It is also known as the new influenza A(H1N1) virus as it had not circulated among humans previously. What makes H1N1 different is that it is not related to previous or current human seasonal influenza viruses (it is related to the spanish flu virus that killed millions back in 1918).
The virus is spread from person-to-person. It is transmitted as easily as the normal seasonal flu and can be passed to other people by exposure to infected droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing can be inhaled or that can contaminate hands or surfaces. While getting the flu vaccination is a smart choice, it is not a guarantee that you will not get the flu. Everyday preventative cautions should be observed to keep the flu at bay. The CDC recommends the following:
- Avoid close contact with sick people and limit contact if you are sick.
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue and then immediately dispose of it in the trash.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth to prevent spread of germs.
- Disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.
Signs of influenza A(H1N1) are flu-like. They include a fever, cough, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, sore throat, runny nose, and occasionally, vomiting or diarrhea. A person should seek medical care if their fever continues for more than three days. If a child has fast or labored breathing, parents should seek immediate medical attention.